Canada “fully supports” an appeal from the United Nations for an immediate global ceasefire so the world can fight the coronavirus pandemic together.
On March 23, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for peace, saying it was “time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
“The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price,” he said. “They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”
On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and International Development Minister Karina Gould issued a statement, backing the UN leader’s concerns.
“We know that these populations are already disproportionately affected by armed conflict, that they are more vulnerable to economic and food insecurity and that they are at even greater risk now because of this pandemic. This is why a global ceasefire is so important.”
Canada is “working hard to prioritize the protection of the most vulnerable” in response to the pandemic, which included funding to the UN and other international partners, the statement said.
“We offer Canada’s full support to, and stand in solidarity with, those on the front lines of the response and the civilians and vulnerable populations in conflict, who require protection now more than ever.”
“During this unprecedented global crisis, we also wish to reiterate Canada’s full commitment to multilateralism and the rules-based international order.”
The UN has long been trying to mediate an end to conflicts in countries, including Syria, Yemen and Libya, while also providing humanitarian assistance to millions of civilians.
Some warring parties have taken steps to lay down their arms after a ceasefire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen went into effect Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the conflict that has gone on for more than five years.
WATCH | UN calls for global ceasefire as coronavirus rages on:
Saudi officials announced late Wednesday that the ceasefire would last for two weeks and that it comes in response to UN calls to halt hostilities.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy defence minister, tweeted Thursday that it “will hopefully create a more effective climate to de-escalate tensions” and enable the sides to work toward a political settlement.
He also tweeted that Saudi Arabia would contribute $500 million US to UN relief efforts in Yemen this year, and an additional $25 million to combat the pandemic.
UN chief Guterres had warned last month that in war-torn countries, such as Yemen, health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting.
“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” he said. “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”